Driven to distraction by famous landmarks

Driven to distraction by famous landmarks

As planning for Mark Wallinger’s white horse dubbed ‘The Angel of the South’ gets underway, new research released today reveals that an estimated 4 million (12 per cent) motorists have had an accident or near miss because they were distracted by famous roadside landmarks.

The research, conducted by esure car insurance2, found that two thirds (66 per cent) of those surveyed admitted that as a driver they are distracted by roadside landmarks and have often taken their eyes off the road to glance at these popular attractions.

The research revealed that Stonehenge in Wiltshire gets the most heads turning as it topped the poll as the most distracting landmark with Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North coming a close second - particularly worrying as it is seen by an estimated 90,000 people every day3.

Top Ten Most Distracting Landmarks:

Stonehenge, Wiltshire (62 per cent)
Angel of the North, Tyneside (60 per cent)
London Eye, London (40 per cent)
Windsor Castle, Windsor (38 per cent)
Celtic Chalk Figures, Dorset (36 per cent)
Wembley Stadium, London (29 per cent)
Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland (24 per cent)
Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex (22 per cent)
Humber Bridge, Hull (20 per cent)
The Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland (13 per cent)
Over a quarter (28 per cent) of the motorists questioned admitted they have had to brake suddenly when driving passed a landmark - which could easily lead to a serious road incident.

Over half (52 per cent) of the motorists questioned said that they slow down when passing roadside landmarks so that they can see the sights while driving. A further 63 per cent - almost two thirds - confessed that passengers had encouraged them to take their eyes off the road to look at a roadside landmark.

Almost half (47 per cent) of those polled said that national landmarks such as the proposed white horse statue dubbed the ‘Angel of the South’ should not be built next to busy roads as they distract drivers, while nearly half (49 per cent) think that there should be road signs warning drivers to slow down due to upcoming roadside landmarks. A further 47 per cent said that they thought speed limits should be lower around roadside landmarks.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) said that viewing areas should be introduced around all roadside landmarks to allow drivers to stop safely to take pictures etc. Worryingly, over a third (35 per cent) admitted that they wouldn’t pull over in a lay-by to admire a roadside landmark while driving.

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure car insurance, said: “Spotting famous landmarks has long been a fun part of road trips, but this can also lead drivers to distraction as they take their eyes away from the road, slow down or brake suddenly.

Motorists should keep their eyes on the road at all times - taking them off the road ahead even for a split second, could be dangerous. If motorists want to look at a landmark or take a quick photo, they should either pull into a lay-by when it is safe to do so or wait until they are not the ones in the driving seat.”

Regional Differences
Motorists in the North East, the region where the famous Angel of the North is sited, are most distracted by landmarks, with almost three quarters (73 per cent) of those polled admitting to taking their eyes off the road to quickly glance at roadside attractions.

15 per cent of motorists in Yorkshire admitted having had an accident or near miss when driving past a roadside landmark while over one in ten (13 per cent) Scottish drivers admitted the same claim.

Gender Divide
Female motorists are more likely to be distracted by roadside landmarks - 68 per cent say they are sometimes distracted enough to take their eyes away from the road compared to 63 per cent of male motorists.

Female motorists are also more concerned about safety around famous landmarks, with 43 per cent stating that there should be lower speed limits around distracting monuments whereas only 31 per cent of men think this should be the case.

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